I Can't Access Some Websites. Why and How Do I Fix It?

By Kristen
Content Updated on January 23, 2008
I first encountered the "I can't see my website" emergency when I was trying to upload some updates to Kristen's Guide. All I kept seeing was:

This page cannot be displayed or Server not found.

In a panic, I assumed that the problem was the host server and switched to a new server, but that wasn't the problem at all. Since then I learned a variety of reasons why some websites just don't' show up.

The websites might be down.

If it's not your website, then there is nothing you can do to fix this. Try again later.

Your temporary browser files might be causing problems.

Go into your browser settings and delete all cookies, cache, and temporary Internet files.

You might have spyware, adware, malware, etc.

Scan your computer for viruses, spyware, adware, malware, etc. Some of these programs block random sites while some sneakier programs block competitor sites.

You're firewall might be blocking the sites.

Look at the options in your firewall software (read the manual / help files to find out how), and make sure that the site isn't being blocked. You may need to look through your firewall logs to see if it has been blocking the site.

Maybe your Internet setting were messed up somehow.

Go into your Control Panel > Internet Options and check your "Security," "Privacy," "Content," "Connection," and "Advanced" options. If you don't know what they should be set to, then just reset them all back to the default. (This does not mean uncheck everything or delete anything. Just click on the reset buttons. If you don't see a reset button on the tab. Then skip that tab.) If you are connected via dial-up, make sure your dial-up settings are set properly. If you are connected via cable, DSL, fiber optic FIOS, wireless, etc. then make sure your LAN settings are correct. In your "Security" settings, make sure that the site isn't listed as a restricted site.

Maybe you're on a network that won't let you see those sites.

This is common at libraries, companies, organizations, hotels, hotspots, etc. Talk to the network administrator about this.

Maybe your router needs to be reset.

Unplug your router for 10 seconds, then plug it back in. Then try looking at those sites again.

Maybe your router is filtering multicasts.

Go into your router settings and look for an option to filter multicasts (read the manual / help files to find out how). Switch it to disable, save the settings, and try to load those websites again.

Perhaps the MTU (maximum transmission unit) settings on your adaptor may be too big.

(Non-geek translation metaphor: your computer is trying to send packages that are too big to fit through the slot in the mail box.) Download and install Dr. TCP (you might have to download it from a friend's computer), and try setting the MTU to 1500, 1492, or 576. (Thanks Leo.) If you can't download Dr. TCP or if you can't get it to work for some reason, try doing it the more complicated (less newbie friendly) way. Do a search for your version of windows and "change MTU" to find articles that explain exactly how to changes these items in the registry.